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Fantasy Football: NFL Week 9 QB Rankings

Nov 1, 2020; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a pass as New York Jets outside linebacker Tarell Basham (93) defends during the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Week 9!

Eight weeks of football are in the books. Madness. Bye weeks continue to flow in, and injuries have unfortunately continued to take a toll on offenses around the league. Focusing on the long-term view is usually the right move in most walks of life, but it’s also important in fantasy football land to not be afraid to attack each week as its own mini one-game season.

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What follows are my Week 9 QB rankings. Note that these are not season-long lists or projections; I’m purely ranking based on who I believe will score more fantasy points this week with a focus on 1) What the QB has achieved in recent weeks, 2) Injuries or workload changes that could impact their production, and 3) This week’s matchup.

1. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS QB PATRICK MAHOMES VS. CAROLINA PANTHERS (KC -12, 52)

The national media largely chastised the Bills’ defensive approach against the Chiefs in Week 6, when they sold out to stop the pass and accordingly allowed gaping holes to Clyde Edwards-Helaire and the run game. The strategy ultimately didn’t work; the Chiefs defeated the Bills 26-17. Still, Mahomes attempted a season-low 26 pass attempts, and just 8% of his throws were against a box with at least seven defenders in it.

The Chiefs are a smart team; they run the ball against soft boxes and throw the ball when the defense loads up the box. Last week, the Jets sold out to stop the run because: I don’t know. Forty-five percent of Mahomes’ pass attempts wound up being against loaded boxes with seven or more defenders, and the Chiefs’ first-team offense accordingly threw the ball 42 times in just over three quarters of work.

Neither strategy led to a victory, but it makes sense to try and limit the number of times that Mahomes has the ball in his hands. Carolina's opponents have only faced a box featuring seven or more defenders on 32% of dropbacks — the fifth-lowest mark in the league. Mahomes warrants overall QB1 treatment because he’s the best QB alive and capable of balling out against even the league’s toughest units, but don’t be surprised if we fail to see the same sort of relentless approach to throwing the ball for however long this game stays competitive.

2. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS QB RUSSELL WILSON AT BUFFALO BILLS (SEA -2.5, 53.5)

Yes, the Seahawks are letting Russ cook. Also yes, he’s cooking at a heat that we’ve never seen before. The 2020 version of Wilson is truly the finest yet, as he’s set career-best marks in the following efficiency metrics through eight weeks of action:

  • PFF Passing Grade: 93.5
  • Yards per attempt: 8.1
  • Completion rate: 69.4%
  • Adjusted completion rate: 80.8%
  • QB Rating: 115.0

Wilson is even averaging 37.1 rushing yards per game, which is good for the second-highest mark of his career. Add it all together and it’s no surprise that he stands as the overall fantasy QB1 this season.

The Bills’ banged-up defense has a higher ceiling than they’ve demonstrated in 2020, but this is still hardly a matchup to fear. Expect a shootout in a game that has a real chance to close with the week’s single-highest game total.

3. ARIZONA CARDINALS QB KYLER MURRAY VS. MIAMI DOLPHINS (ARI -4.5, 47)

Murray has largely been up and down as a passer this season, struggling to find consistent high-end chemistry with anyone other than DeAndre Hopkins.

That’s OK in fantasy land because the overall QB2 has demonstrated rushing upside that is threatening to rewrite the position’s record book just a season after Lamar Jackson managed to do so. Murray has posted the following rushing totals on the ground through eight weeks:

  • Rush attempts: 65; 16-game pace: 149 (would be No. 2 among all QBs ever)
  • Rush Yards: 437; 16-game pace: 999 (No. 3)
  • Rush TDs: 7; 16-game pace: 16 (No. 1)

This Dolphins defense has made life difficult for basically every QB they’ve faced this season other than Josh Allen and Russell Wilson. Only the Colts (80.9), Chiefs (82.5) and Rams (88.4) have allowed a lower passer rating than the Dolphins (88.5) in 2020.

Alas, it doesn’t really matter against Murray in fantasy land. Continue to treat the 2019 No. 1 overall pick as a top-three option at the position thanks to the league’s single-highest rushing floor at the moment; just realize a true blow-up performance as a passer might not be on the horizon.

4. HOUSTON TEXANS QB DESHAUN WATSON AT JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (HOU -6.5, 51.5)

Watson has cleared 300 passing yards and racked up multiple scores through the air in four consecutive games. He usually is responsible for the majority of the offense’s production when they happen to win, while we’ve seen the Texans’ franchise QB continuously drive the offense up and down the field throughout garbage time when this porous Houston team falls behind on the scoreboard.

Thus, Watson has basically been the same-caliber fantasy QB that he’s always been since entering the league in 2017; we’ve just seen more production than usual from the position as a whole:

  • 2017: 24.1 fantasy points per game (No. 1 among all QBs)
  • 2018: 20.7 (No. 5)
  • 2019: 21.3 (No. 2)
  • 2020: 22.1 (No. 8)

Only the Seahawks and Falcons have allowed more fantasy points per game to opposing QBs than the Jaguars. Watson is more deserving of top-five treatment than ever ahead of this dream matchup.

5. BUFFALO BILLS QB JOSH ALLEN VS. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (SEA -2.5, 53.5)

Allen was putting up larger performances during the early portion of the season before struggling in recent weeks as both a real-life and fantasy QB. His always-present gunslinger mentality and nose for the end zone near the goal line has prevented any true disasters, but we certainly didn’t see the same man in October that was around in September:

  • Week 1 vs. Jets: QB1 in total fantasy points
  • Week 2 at Dolphins: QB3
  • Week 3 vs. Rams: QB3
  • Week 4 at Raiders: QB6
  • Week 5 at Titans: QB14
  • Week 6 vs. Chiefs: QB17
  • Week 7 at Jets: QB14
  • Week 8 vs. Patriots: QB18 (pre-MNF)

Note that weather-induced matchups against the Chiefs in Week 6 (27 pass attempts) and Patriots in Week 8 (18) led to less volume than we usually see from the Bills’ passing game.

Allen continues to warrant high-end fantasy treatment at the position, particularly in this week’s matchup against the league’s single-worst defense in fantasy points per game allowed to opposing QBs. There’s plenty of room to smash next week as well against the Cardinals, and the Bills’ post-bye schedule against the Chargers, 49ers, Steelers, Broncos and Patriots sure looked more intimidating before each defense was dealt a rough hand in terms of injuries.

Things haven’t been smooth for the Bills offense in recent weeks, but expect better days ahead in the near future for Allen and company.

6. BALTIMORE RAVENS QB LAMAR JACKSON AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (BAL -3, 44.5)

Jackson’s No. 1 WR Marquise Brown is unhappy at the moment. He tweeted, then deleted: “What's the point of having souljas when you never use them.”

To be fair, Brown 1) leads the Ravens in targets, and 2) ranks fifth in air yard market share (39%) among all WRs. A better critique would be to simply note that he hasn’t exactly received the most-catchable deep-ball targets this season.

Just 40% of the Ravens’ deep-ball targets (20-plus yards downfield) have been deemed catchable this season — the eighth-worst mark in the league. Last season they ranked 18th with a 47% deep-ball catchable rate.

Jackson is still averaging a robust 20.1 fantasy points per game, and his performance against the Steelers in Week 8 would’ve been much bigger if he didn’t have a rushing score nullified by a penalty. Still, we’ve seen Jackson take a noticeable step back in basically every passing efficiency metric, and it’s tough to see an immediate turnaround coming this week against the Colts’ third-ranked defense in fantasy points per game allowed to the position.

7. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS QB JUSTIN HERBERT VS. LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (LAC -1.5, 53.5)

The 2020 draft’s No. 6 overall pick has been nothing short of excellent this season at filling up the stat sheet. Overall, he’s thrown for at least 300 yards and/or racked up three-plus scores through the air in every game this season. Only Russell Wilson (29.4 fantasy points per game), Kyler Murray (27.9), Dak Prescott (26.9) and Patrick Mahomes (25.9) have been more productive on a per-contest basis than Herbert (24.5) in fantasy land.

Up next is a Raiders defense that managed to slow down Baker Mayfield and company with an assist from mother nature in Week 8, but we’ve seen the likes of Tom Brady (369 pass yards-4 TD- 0 INT), Mahomes (340-2-1), Drew Brees (312-1-1) and Josh Allen (288-2-0) each find plenty of success through the air against PFF’s single-worst secondary in overall coverage grade.

This ranking honestly feels a bit low; Herbert has been that good this season. Throw in the reality that this potential shootout could force the Chargers to keep their foot on the gas for 60 minutes, and we need to once again fire up the rookie with confidence in fantasy football formats of all shapes and sizes.

8. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS QB TOM BRADY VS. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (TB -2.5, 55.5)

TB12 continues to show little dropoff in his performance despite being 43 years of age. The Buccaneers have struggled to stay healthy at WR, but help is on the way in the form of Antonio Brown.

We’ve only seen Brady and AB play 24 snaps together in Week 2 last season against the Dolphins. The production was as follows:

  • 8 targets
  • 4 receptions
  • 56 receiving yards
  • 1 TD
  • 1 rush attempt
  • 5 rush yards

The likes of Josh Gordon (5 targets), Julian Edelman (4) and James White (4) all immediately took back seats to AB despite spending far more time with Brady over the previous years. There’s a very real chance that Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are better than Brown at this point in their respective careers; there’s still a chance that the ex-Steelers’ star WR is treated as the No. 1 option in this passing game moving forward.

Regardless of who gets the most targets, Brady is now surrounded by his best supporting cast since the Randy Moss days. He’s earned weekly top-10 fantasy treatment regardless of the matchup; don’t expect the Saints’ struggling secondary to limit this Tampa Bay offense to just 23 points and 224 passing yards like they did in Week 1.

9. GREEN BAY PACKERS QB AARON RODGERS AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (GB -3, 50.5)

Right now the only sure thing in fantasy football, and maybe life as a whole, is the reality that Rodgers and Davante Adams will supply weekly magic. Wilson and Tyler Lockett still might hold the throne as the league’s single-best QB-WR duo in terms of Jedi-like chemistry, but it’s certainly a conversation.

Adams’ high-end combination of route-running goodness and contested-catch ability has rendered him virtually unguardable with Rodgers able to put the football wherever he wants more plays than not.

The Packers are reportedly in the market for a wide receiver. It’s almost like addressing the position at literally any point in the offseason would’ve been a good idea. Either way, Rodgers’ pissed-off 2020 campaign continues to the West Coast where he’ll face a much more banged-up version of the defense that gave him so many troubles last season. I’m tempering expectations just a bit for this cross-country trip against anyone’s idea of a well-coached defense, but Rodgers has earned top-10 treatment regardless of the matchup at this point.

10. ATLANTA FALCONS QB MATT RYAN VS. DENVER BRONCOS (ATL -4, 47.5)

Ryan and the Falcons’ passing game struggled to get going in the rain against the Panthers last Thursday night, but he continued to show enhanced efficiency with Julio Jones active. The potential problem this week is if Calvin Ridley (foot) is inactive. The Falcons’ longtime franchise QB is equipped with two of the three-most efficient weapons of his career; only Taylor Gabriel (9.96) has averaged more adjusted yards per target than Ridley (9.9) and Jones (9.7) among 24 players with at least 50 career targets from Ryan.

The Broncos’ well-coached defense has only allowed more than 250 passing yards against the Chargers, Buccaneers and Steelers this season. It’s unclear if a banged-up version of the Falcons offense deserves to be mentioned in the same breath of those passing games, but we’ll give Ryan the benefit of the doubt for this home spot as long as he at least has Julio out there.

Ryan is the QB15 in fantasy points per game, although less than a point separates him from ranking 12th. The Falcons rank fourth in total pass attempts this season; continue to fire up Ryan as a volume-induced QB1 despite the reality that this offense’s skill-position units have a troubling lack of depth.

11. TENNESSEE TITANS QB RYAN TANNEHILL VS. CHICAGO BEARS (TEN -6, 46.5)

The artist known as TanneThrill is sitting pretty as the QB10 in fantasy points per game through eight weeks. He’s truly functioned as one of the league’s best QBs over the past 13 months:

  • PFF Passing Grade: 92.1 (No. 2 among 49 QBs with 100-plus dropbacks 2019-2020)
  • QB rating: 114 (No. 1)
  • Yards per attempt: 8.8 (No. 1)
  • Completion rate: 69% (No. 5)
  • Adjusted completion rate: 77.3% (No. 9)

The reality that Tannehill has accomplished all of this with a top-five average target depth is even more amazing. Credit to the likes of A.J. Brown, Jonnu Smith and Derrick Henry for regularly functioning as monsters after the catch, but the Titans’ franchise QB is one of just 11 signal-callers to have fewer than 40% of their passing yards come by way of YAC over the past two seasons.

A consensus top-10 real-life and fantasy QB over the past two seasons, the only reason why Tannehill doesn’t crack this week’s top-10 list is due to the reality that the Bears join the Colts, Patriots and Buccaneers as the league’s only three defenses allowing 16 or fewer fantasy points per game to opposing QBs.

12. LAS VEGAS RAIDERS QB DEREK CARR AT LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (LAC -1.5, 53.5)

Neither Carr nor Mayfield had any sort of luck moving the ball through the air during their windy and rainy Week 8 matchup. Credit to Carr for racking up 41 rushing yards; it was just the fourth time in 101 career starts that he surpassed the 40-yard threshold. Additionally, the performance would’ve been a bit better had rookie Henry Ruggs III gotten his second foot down on a well-thrown potential TD from Carr.

The much-criticized seventh-year QB is arguably playing the best ball of his career. We’ve never seen him post a better QB rating (103.8), and his 12 big-time throws through eight weeks are already within shouting distance of his 17-such throws from 2019. This increased efficiency has led to more fantasy-friendly production: Carr already has more games with 250-plus yards and multiple scores in 2020 (5) than he did in 2019 (4), 2018 (3) and 2017 (3) alike.

The Chargers boast an incredible defense, when healthy. That’s simply not the case at the moment with stud edge rusher Joey Bosa (concussion) at risk of joining CB Chris Harris Jr. (foot, IR) and safety Derwin James (knee, IR) on the sideline this week. The Chargers’ last four games have produced total point totals of 69, 57, 68 and most-recently 61; expect another shootout in Week 8 with Carr more than holding up his end of the bargain.

13. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS QB CAM NEWTON AT NEW YORK JETS (NE -7, 41.5)

Newton racked up 18.4 fantasy points in Week 8 — good for the 12th-highest mark at the position pre-MNF. Coach Bill Belichick has already confirmed Newton will be back under center in Week 8 despite his late-game fumble and overall uneven play throughout the season.

It’s tough to blame the entirety of the passing game’s struggles on Newton considering only the Seahawks (66%), Titans (65%) and Colts (64%) have had a higher rate of catchable deep balls than the Patriots (62%) this season. The following players were relied upon for major snaps at WR and TE in Week 8:

  • Damiere Byrd: The pint-sized speedster is a former undrafted free agent who is on his third team since entering the league in 2016.
  • Jakobi Meyers: 2019 undrafted free agent who flashed in the preseason last year, but ultimately hasn’t been able to carve out a consistent role without injuries.
  • Gunner Olszewski: 2019 undrafted free agent who has three career receptions.
  • Isaiah Zuber: 2020 undrafted free agent who caught 14 passes in 10 games during his final collegiate season at Mississippi State.
  • Ryan Izzo: 2018 seventh-round pick who has caught 15 passes over the past two seasons and is anyone’s idea of a block-first TE.

Newton’s fantasy value is almost entirely tied to his rushing upside, which remains sky-high. He’s racked up at least nine rush attempts in all but one game this season and remains on pace to set career-high marks in rush attempts (148) and rushing scores (15) despite having already missed a game due to Covid-19.

The Jets routinely sell out to stop the run; I worry that the Patriots’ passing game is in such a porous state that they might not be able to control this game as easily as most will expect. Still, the offense’s most likely method of finding the end zone remains Newton as a rusher; he’s a weekly borderline QB1 option as long as the Patriots continue to play to win the game.

14. DETROIT LIONS QB MATTHEW STAFFORD AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS (MIN -3.5, 53.5)

Stafford won’t have Kenny Golladay (hip) for at least Week 9. This is problematic considering the Lions posted season-low marks in average target depth in Weeks 1-2 with their No. 1 WR sidelined. Still, we saw Stafford remain plenty capable of putting up big numbers in comeback mode during the second half of the Lions’ Week 8 loss to the Colts. The man truly can make just about any throw on the field.

Up next is a banged-up Vikings defense that was struggling to stop opposing passing games even before losing most of their starting corners to injury. Overall, they join the Chargers, Jaguars, Falcons and Seahawks as the only defenses that have allowed more than 24 fantasy points per game to opposing QBs; Stafford is an upside QB2 that should have the sort of volume to make the most out of this juicy spot.

15. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS QB DREW BREES AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (TB -2.5, 55.5)

Getting Michael Thomas back in action would certainly be a boost for this passing attack ahead of this week’s brutal matchup against the Buccaneers’ league-best defense in fewest fantasy points per game allowed to QBs.

Pick a stat any stat and it’s clear Tampa Bay boasts anyone’s idea of an elite defense (pre-MNF):

  • Explosive pass-play rate: 12.6% (No. 9)
  • Passing yards per attempt: 7.1 (No. 13)
  • Passing TD rate: 3.6% (No. 6)
  • Interception rate: 3.6% (No. 5)
  • Pressure rate: 39% (No. 4)
  • QB rating allowed: 89.4 (No. 6)
  • Contested target rate: 17% (No. 10)

The Buccaneers’ opponents have dropped a league-low 3.4% of their targets against them; this defense has been dominant and unlucky through eight weeks of action.

Brees threw for a season-low 160 yards against this defense in Week 1, and that was from the friendly confines of the Superdome. Week 8 was the first time we saw Brees play outdoors all season; the eye-ball test was largely underwhelming. Throw in the reality that Thomas (3-17-0) struggled to get open against Carlton Davis, and it might be in your fantasy team’s best interest to look for a streaming option this week instead of rolling the dice with Brees.

16. CAROLINA PANTHERS QB TEDDY BRIDGEWATER AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (KC -12, 52)

The artist known as Teddy Two Gloves has struggled to put up big-time numbers in recent weeks, failing to surpass even 225 yards through the air against the Bears and Falcons alike. He’s averaging a career-high 20.1 rushing yards per game but ultimately is the QB12 in fantasy points per game.

The only reason Bridgewater isn’t ranked lower this week is due to the potential that the Panthers are forced to pass the ball early and often in a matchup that is expected to feature plenty of negative game script. Bridgewater hasn’t reached even 30 pass attempts in a game since Week 5, but that seems like the floor for him in this spot.

The Chiefs boast plenty of playmakers on defense, although this season they’ve faced: Deshaun Watson, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, Cam Newton, Derek Carr, Josh Allen, Drew Lock and Sam Darnold. Yes, there are plenty of studs in that group. Also yes, the Chiefs’ general inability to limit Carr and Herbert, in particular, is troubling ahead of a matchup against probably the best WR duo they’ve faced this season.

Don’t go crazy with expectations for Bridgewater in Arrowhead, but this passing attack is talented enough to warrant weekly upside QB2 treatment in games such as this one that we can expect enhanced volume through the air.

17. PITTSBURGH STEELERS QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER AT DALLAS COWBOYS (N/A)

Big Ben failed to reach 250 yards just once in 2018; he’s finished under that mark in five of seven games this season. Credit to Roethlisberger for limiting turnovers and sacks; the Steelers are sitting pretty at 7-0 and would undoubtedly be fooked if their longtime franchise QB is forced to miss any extended amount of time. Still, the fantasy ceiling is lower than ever: Roethlisberger’s average of 17.1 fantasy points per game ranks 22nd among all QBs.

Up next is a matchup against the Cowboys’ porous secondary, although we actually have only seen Russell Wilson (315 pass yards-5 TD-0 INT), Matt Ryan (273-4-0) and Jared Goff (275-0-1) throw for more than 250 yards against this defense through eight weeks. The Cowboys pass rush has picked up in recent weeks and opponents have generally been happy to attack this dreadful run defense. Big Ben will need to greatly enhance his efficiency in order to make up for the expected lack of a volume boost in a game that projects for plenty of positive game script.

18. MINNESOTA VIKINGS QB KIRK COUSINS VS. DETROIT LIONS (MIN -3.5, 53.5)

Only Drew Lock (10.7) has a higher average target depth than Cousins (10) among all QBs with at least 100 dropbacks this season. Normally, Cousins can make up for his lack of high-end volume with this sort of fantasy-friendly gunslinger mentality, but instances such as Week 8 (14 total pass attempts) will render everybody involved in this passing game as non-viable fantasy assets. It’s tough to predict when exactly the Vikings will have such an easy time building and maintaining a multi-score lead, although this week’s matchup against the struggling Lions certainly seems like a contender.

Cousins has surpassed 300 yards once and thrown for three scores just twice. There remains no rushing floor here. This is the most-efficient version of Cousins that we’ve ever seen in terms of yards per attempt and per completion, but the weekly chance of next-to-zero volume renders him as nothing more than a boom-or-bust QB2.

19. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS QB NICK MULLENS VS. GREEN BAY PACKERS (GB -3, 50.5)

Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle) is expected to be sidelined a minimum of six weeks, while TE George Kittle (foot) is out for eight weeks. Throw in the reality that Raheem Mostert (knee, IR) and Deebo Samuel (hamstring) remain sidelined, and suddenly this 49ers offense is down to their last few options in terms of viable playmakers.

Mullens showed off a dreadful floor in the 49ers’ Week 4 loss against the Eagles and hardly has a stranglehold on this job with C.J. Beathard being a weekly threat to enter the game after a mistake or two. This hasn’t been anyone’s idea of a shut-down defense all year, but at some point, Kyle Shanahan’s play-calling wizardry isn’t going to be able to make up for the lack of talent at his disposal.

Please void playing Mullens if you can avoid it, but this Thursday night matchup does lend itself kindly to the 49ers having to keep up through the air to match pace with Aaron Rodgers and company. For this reason, I’m comfortable ranking Mullens ahead of more-proven signal-callers; just realize the floor here is much lower than guys ranked behind him.

20. NEW YORK GIANTS QB DANIEL JONES AT WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM (WSH -1, 43)

The Giants offense is a complete mess at the moment, with OC Jason Garrett’s solution to getting more out of Jones and TE Evan Engram seemingly being to feed them rush attempts. Somehow, only Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson have more rushing yards than Jones through eight weeks of action.

This dual-threat role has led to Jones having a few usable fantasy performances in the last few weeks, but his status as the league’s most-pressured QB doesn’t figure to produce much of a turnaround through the air in this matchup against the Football Team’s never-ending supply of monsters across the defensive line. Washington has allowed the third-most rushing yards to opposing QBs this season, but relying purely on Jones continuing to find a way to average 40-plus yards per game on the ground seems like wishful thinking. Try to find a better streamer.

21. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS QB PHILIP RIVERS VS. BALTIMORE RAVENS (BAL -3, 44.5)

Only Patrick Mahomes (385-4-0, 374-3-0) has thrown for more than 225 yards with multiple TDs against this Ravens secondary since Week 1 of last season. Big Ben is averaging just 265.7 passing yards per game through eight weeks — his lowest mark since 2012.

Rivers has the Colts sitting pretty at 5-2 and has thrown a trio of TDs in consecutive games; just don’t expect consistent high-end production from this season’s QB25 in fantasy points per game. He’s posting the second-lowest average target depth of his career, and a matchup against the league’s third-best defense in explosive pass-play rate allowed doesn’t seem like the spot to expect a big-time performance.

22. DENVER BRONCOS QB DREW LOCK AT ATLANTA FALCONS (ATL -4, 47.5)

Lock is a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde QB. His league-high average target depth reflects the reality that there isn’t a throw on the field that the second-year QB doesn’t believe he’s capable of making, but ultimately he has more turnover-worthy plays (16) than big-time throws (14) after 10 career starts.

Ultimately, Lock has posted two fantasy-viable games in his career. He threw for 309 yards and three scores against the Texans in Week 14 last season and 248 yards with a trio of TDs against the Chargers last week. Otherwise, we’ve seen eight performances featuring either one or zero TDs and fewer than 255 passing yards.

Only the Seahawks have allowed more fantasy points per game to opposing QBs than the Falcons; it’d make sense if this is the third fantasy-viable game of Lock’s young career. Meh. I’ll likely be fading Lock across fantasy formats of all shapes and sizes due to his demonstrated 1) next-to-zero rushing ability, and 2) generally low passing floor.

23. CHICAGO BEARS QB NICK FOLES AT TENNESSEE TITANS (TEN -6, 46.5)

All Foles needs to do is exist for the few seconds between receiving the snap and getting the ball to Allen Robinson.

He’s generally managed to still enable A-Rob to fantasy goodness, and we finally saw the Bears’ starting QB hook up with Darnell Mooney on a deep shot in Week 8. Still, Foles hasn’t surpassed 275 passing yards all season, and he hasn’t recorded three passing scores since the Bears’ epic comeback win over the Falcons back in Week 3.

Foles is the QB28 in fantasy points per game this season. The matchup is winnable enough, but the 1) complete absence of a rushing floor, and 2) demonstrated meh passing upside, has me looking elsewhere for realistic QB options in Week 9.

24. WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM QB KYLE ALLEN VS. NEW YORK GIANTS (WSH -1, 43)

Allen has posted decent enough performances against the Giants (280 passing yards-2 TD-1 INT) and Cowboys (194-2-0), although expecting any sort of fantasy goodness from a signal-caller in anyone’s idea of a miserable offense seems like risky business. This offensive line remains shoddy at best, and there isn’t a single receiver outside of Terry McLaurin that puts any sort of fear into opposing secondaries.

It looks like Allen is capable of enabling McLaurin and Antonio Gibson (with more snaps) to fantasy goodness. This is great! However, don’t get carried away and expect any sort of consistent passing production from PFF’s sixth-lowest-graded QB over the past two seasons among 49 qualified players at the position.

25. MIAMI DOLPHINS QB TUA TAGOVAILOA AT ARIZONA CARDINALS (ARI -4.5, 47)

Congrats to Tua for getting a win in his first career start, but his 93-yard performance was ultimately the second-lowest graded game from a 1) QB in Week 8, and 2) rookie QB this season. The No. 5 overall pick from the 2020 draft wasn’t asked to do much; his 5.0-yard average target depth was far removed from Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 8.2 mark. Still, Tua was generally erratic and didn’t show any sort of upside as both a passer and runner.

Starting for the first time against Aaron Donald and company was hardly ideal; just realize Tua has a ways to go before earning anything resembling weekly fantasy consideration. It’s going to have to be a wait-and-see approach with pretty much everyone involved in this offense (other than Myles Gaskin) in fantasy football land.

26. NEW YORK JETS QB SAM DARNOLD VS. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (NE -7, 41.5)

Darnold continues to battle a shoulder injury and has only been asked to pass more than 35 times just once this season despite generally facing multi-score deficits during any given week. The Jets have seemingly taken a page out of the Giants’ playbook in regards to getting their QB more designed rush attempts; Darnold nearly has as many games with at least 20 rushing yards over the past three weeks (3) as he did in 2018-2019 combined (4). This is the only reason why he’s not ranked dead last ahead of a matchup against a defense that forced him to see ghosts in 2019. After a few drinks, we could probably convince ourselves that Taysom Hill is a better QB play this week than any of these bottom-three QBs.

27. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS QB JAKE LUTON VS. HOUSTON TEXANS (HOU -6.5, 51.5)

Gardner Minshew (thumb) is sidelined/benched, and Mike Glennon apparently is the third-string QB in Jacksonville. Enter: Luton, who the Jaguars selected in the sixth round of the 2020 draft. The former Oregon State signal-caller’s ranks among college QBs with at least 100 dropbacks in 2019 are below:

  • PFF Passing Grade: 87 (No. 21 among 256 qualified QBs)
  • Yards per attempt: 7.6 (tied for No. 107)
  • Adjusted completion rate: 74.1% (No. 47)
  • QB Rating: 107.6 (tied for No. 31)
  • Average target depth: 9 (tied for No. 161)

Luton finished with just 230 rushing yards in 33 career games at Oregon State and Idaho. The advanced metrics seem to paint the picture of a typical game-manager with limited fantasy football upside in terms of 1) rushing ability, and 2) willingness to throw downfield.

Perhaps Luton does do a good job of taking care of the football and gives the Jaguars the best chance to win at the moment, but we have no idea what he offers from a fantasy perspective. Playing behind PFF’s No. 20-graded offensive line hardly seems ideal. The matchup isn’t anything to fear; I’m just hesitant in expecting anything from this unproven rookie in his first career action.

28. DALLAS COWBOYS QB BEN DINUCCI VS. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (N/A)

DiNucci’s career debut against the Eagles was in one word “bad” and in three words “really freaking awful.” The Cowboys took an unorthodox offensive approach early with a reliance on wildcat formations and reverses. The surprise quickly wore off after it became apparent that DiNucci isn’t capable of orchestrating anything resembling an NFL offense behind this patchwork offensive line. I’m honestly concerned for DiNucci and/or Andy Dalton’s safety this week against the Steelers’ league-best pass-rush. Fire up the Cowboys’ eventual starting QB as arguably the top play at the position in fantasy football leagues where the goal is to score as few points as possible.

[/am4show]

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